USS Kanawha II (SP-130)

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Kanawha II (Steam Yacht, 1899) underway, prior to her World War I Navy service.
Union Navy Jack United States
  • USS Kanawha II (1917-1918)
  • USS Piqua (1917-1919)
Namesake: Kanawha II was her previous name retained; Piqua is a city in Ohio named for a tribe of Shawnee Indians which formerly inhabited the region
Owner: John Borden
Builder: Gas Engine and Power Co. and Charles L. Seabury Co., Morris Heights, New York
Laid down: date unknown
Launched: 1898
Acquired: 28 April 1917
Commissioned: 28 April 1917
Decommissioned: c. 1 July 1919 at Morris Heights, New York
Maiden voyage: New York City to Brest, France, 9 June-4 July 1917
Renamed: USS Piqua (SP-130) in 1 March 1918
Struck: 1919 (est.)
Fate: returned to owner on 1 July 1919
Status: ultimate fate unknown
General characteristics
Class & type: commercial yacht
Displacement: 575 tons
Length: 227”
Beam: 24’ 5”
Draft: 9’ 8” (mean)
Propulsion: steam engine
Speed: 20 knots
Complement: 65 officers and enlisted
  • four 3” guns
  • one 6-pounder gun

USS Kanawha II (SP-130)/USS Piqua (SP-130) -- was a yacht acquired by the U.S. Navy during World War I. She was placed into service as an escort for Allied convoys traveling across the dangerous North Atlantic Ocean. German U-boats were active in sinking Allied ships, and Kanawha II (later renamed Piqua) provided a valuable service as a lookout and in one instance attacked one and drove it off. Post-war she was returned to her pre-war owner in July 1919.

Commissioning into the Navy

USS Kanawha II was built as the yacht Kanawha by Gas Engine and Power Co. and Charles L. Seabury Co., Morris Heights, New York, in 1898. She was acquired by the U.S. Navy from her owner, John Borden, April 28, 1917, and commissioned the same day as USS Kanawha II (SP–130) under the command of her former owner, who had been commissioned as a Lieutenant Commander.

The Roman numeral II was used to avoid confusion with the Navy's replenishment oiler USS Kanawha (AO-1).

World War I service

During her first three weeks of naval service Kanawha II performed various duties in the New York area. Upon being outfitted for distant service she got underway for Brest, France June 19, 1917. She arrived there July 4, 1917, in the vanguard of a flotilla of warships sent to aid that country following the United States' entry into World War I.

File:USS Piqua 42427.jpg
USS Piqua (SP-130) dressed with flags on July 4, 1918, as flagship of the U.S. District Commander at Lorient, France

Two weeks later she began patrol off Brest. On September 3, 1917, she sighted her first enemy periscope off the French coast, but was unable to press an attack. On November 28th she sighted another closing on a convoy. She issued a submarine warning and the U-boat was later tracked and sunk by two other patrol vessels equipped with depth bombs. The convoy continued undamaged.

On March 1, 1918, she was renamed Piqua, the first Navy ship of that name, probably to avoid message confusion with the oiler Kanawha.

Attacking a German U-boat

While steaming in convoy on July 16, 1918 the Piqua sighted the conning tower of a third U-boat-on an almost parallel heading. She closed and commenced firing at 11,000 yards (10,058 meters). Unable to see their target, the gun crew aimed according to estimated ranges and bearings called down to them from the bridge. Although she scored no hits her shells forced the U-boat to abandon her prey.

Piqua continued to operate off the French coast through the end of the War in November 1918 and into 1919.

Post-war decommissioning and disposal

Piqua sailed for New York City on May 20, 1919, and after stops in the Azores and Bermuda, anchored off Tompkinsville, Staten Island, New York a month later. Later shifted to Morris Heights, New York, she was decommissioned and returned to her owner on July 1, 1919.


See also